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Youth Initiated Mentoring

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  1. Youth Initiated Mentoring Empowering Students from Underserved Backgrounds for Higher Education and Career Success Joan Becker, Vice Provost Academic Support Services and Undergraduate Studies

  2. UMass Boston • 16,164 students in Fall 2018—12,714 undergraduates and 3,450 graduate students • Offer bachelors degrees, masters, and doctoral degrees • 51% of our non-international students are students of color • Our undergraduates are even more diverse with 56% students of color • 59% are first generation college students • 50% come from low-income backgrounds • 53% of our students speak a language other than English at home

  3. Connected Futures: Teaching Students to Develop Networks of Mentors • Pilot Efforts • Urban Scholars—high school students • Directions for Student Potential—Summer program for students who don’t meet admissions standards but have demonstrated potential. • Non-credit course piloted in spring 2016, fall 2016, and spring 2017 • Approved as a 1 credit courses in 2017 • RCT Evaluation—six sections in Fall 18 and Spring 19 served 200+ students • Fall 19: six sections; plan to offer 6-8 sections in spring 20

  4. Connected Futures • 1 credit course—meets 75 minutes per week • Currently offering 6-8 sections per semester; serving 120-160 students • Taught by academic advisors, success coaches, and career specialists • Aimed at first year students, but open to any student • Looking at tailoring sections to beginning students—focused on transition into higher education, ones to students close to degree completion—focused on transition to career.

  5. Connected Futures Pedagogical Approach • Interactive, collaborative, and relevant • Connected to student’s goals • Role playing to practice new skills • Constructive feedback • Focused on the “here and now” • “Real world” homework assignments • Culminates in a networking event • Supportive • Safe, supportive context: “like a family”

  6. Connected Futures Curriculum • Week 1: Welcome! What is a mentor, and how can mentors help me? • Week 2: What are my strengths? • Week 3: How do I set goals in my personal and professional life that I can really achieve? • Week 4: What are my tools for developing and maintaining relationships with mentors? • Week 5: How do I define my social identity, and what effect does that have on networking for me? • Week 6: How can I cope effectively with some common challenges to networking? • Week 7: How do I use my relationships in college to help me achieve my goals?

  7. Connected Futures Curriculum • Week 8: How do I identify, recruit and develop a relationship with a mentor? • Week 9: Who do I need to connect with here on campus? • Week 10: Who am I going to reach out to for an informational interview? • Week 11: What other tools might I need as I recruit mentors? • Week 12: What’s next for me? How will I use networking and mentor attracting skills in the future? • Week 13: Semester Reflection • Week 14: How do I prepare for the Networking Event? • Week 15: Networking Event

  8. What is a mentor, and how can mentors help me? • Discussion of what a mentor is. What might make it easy to connect with a mentor (outgoing, membership in many groups, encouragement of family/friends, etc.)? Are there things that might make it more difficult (feeling shy or isolated, having insular relationships)? • Discussion of social capital: networks of relationships between people that allow the individual and society to be more successful. • Responsibilities of the mentee • Take action. • Ask questions. • Don’t be afraid to disagree. • Be open to feedback. • Be clear on your needs.

  9. What is a mentor? • A mentor is someone with lived experience, providing guidance, support, knowledge in a way that allows another person (the mentee) to thrive in the mentoring relationship. • A mentor gives guidance, points you to resources, supports you, discusses goals and ideas with you, provides you opportunities to reveal and discuss challenges, helps you strategize ways to be successful • Characteristics of a mentor: good listener, helpful, productive, experienced, respectful, approachable, gives valuable advice, give constructive feedback, is a cheer leader, willing to be a sponsor

  10. What are my strengths? Clifton Strengths Quest • Everyone has a group of talents within them and your greatest talents hold the key to high achievement, success, and progress to levels of personal excellence • Becoming aware of your talents builds confidence and provides a basis for achievement • Learning how to develop and apply strengths will improve achievement • Each talent can be applied in many areas including relationships, learning, academics, leadership, service, and careers • As you develop and apply strengths, your achievements will increase and you will experience greater and more frequent success

  11. How do I set goals in my personal and professional life that I can really achieve? • Discussion of the types of goals: Personal, Career, Social, Academic • What makes a goal Successful? • SMART Goals • Goal hurdles--accessing supports

  12. What are my tools for developing and maintaining relationships with mentors? • Discussion of the elements of professionalism Standards by which a company/workplace operates Doing what it takes to make others think of you as competent, reliable and respectful Expectations for behavior and appearance, • Role of first impressions • Social media and professionalism

  13. How do I define my social identity and what effect does that have on networking for me? • Our social identities are shaped by a myriad of characteristics including:Race; Ethnicity; SES/Class; Gender; Sex; Sexual Orientation; National Origin/Indigeneity; First Language; (Dis)ability--physical, emotional, developmental; Age; (Non)Religious/Spiritual Affiliation • Students are asked to discuss: • Identities you think about most often; • Identities you think about least often; • Your own identities you would like to know more about; • Identities that have the strongest effect on how you perceive yourself; • Identities that have the greatest effect on how others perceive you. LSA Inclusive Teaching Initiative, University of Michigan (

  14. How can I cope effectively with some common challenges to networking? • Managing racial, gender, and other biases—overt and implicit • Understanding and overcoming imposter syndrome

  15. How do I develop my relationships in college to help me achieve my goals? • Support On Campus • Ask students to share sources of support on campus and why they would use them - have students write on poster paper and have each group present •  Create a campus eco-map • Introduce Eco-Map and show example. Have students create a campus eco-map, using the people/offices on campus that can help them achieve their goals, identifying strong (solid lines) and weak ties (dotted lines) • Campus Interview • Using the campus eco-map, have students select an office on campus to visit. Preferably have students select a weaker tie or no tie on their eco-map that they would like to grow to a strong tie.

  16. How to identify and recruit a mentor? First identify why you need a mentor. What ways can they help you develop and grow? What are the attributes you desire before you launch your search? Where can you find a mentor? You can find a mentor at the following places: • Campus • Place of worship • Work place • Referrals • LinkedIn • Professional Associations • “a friend, a friend of a friend, a family member, an alumnus of your school, a co-worker or peer, a current or former boss, someone you got to know through a networking event”

  17. Networking Event • Required culminating activity • Students are encouraged to invite mentors, we also invite faculty, staff, alumni, and people in our networks • Information networking time • “Speed dating” rounds for mini-informational interviews

  18. Core Principles • Focus on students’ assets and cultural wealth • Recruit mentors from similar backgrounds to the students being mentored—difference education • Start where the individual is not where you want them to be • Agency development—teaching underserved youth to build mentoring networks

  19. Connect futures in the context of other intentional mentoring efforts. • Peer Mentoring • Learning Community Programs • Peer Coaches • Peer Advisors • Undergraduate mentored research experiences • Career networking opportunities and job shadowing • You have to teach youth to fish but you also have to stock the pond.

  20. Questions?